My VOIP Cell Phone

Since deciding to live in more frugal ways in order to maximize my investments and savings, I’ve become very creative in cutting expenses. Most of my expenses are fairly “fixed” and can’t really be changed at the moment. These types of expenses would include rent, my car payment and student loan repayments. I can’t reduce my rent until my lease has expired and I can’t change my car payment amount. Well, I take that back; I probably could change my car payment amount by refinancing and lengthening the time frame for the loan and therefore pay more interest. But that would really be counterproductive.

One of the expenses I’ve become pretty creative about is my cell phone bill. It wasn’t that long ago that people lived just fine without cell phones. However, these days you can’t pry a cell phone out of someone’s clutches. They have really become an integral part of most people’s lives and it has transformed the landscape of technology and blurred the lines between wants and needs. I understand the excitement behind owning a cell phone. Being able to contact your friends and family at a whim is very comforting and certainly having one in the car in case of an emergency is almost necessary. I’m not that old, but I do remember being in high school with no cell phones around. I do remember a time when a cell phone wasn’t an expense or a necessity. I asked myself if I was really all that unhappy or underprivileged back in those days. I came up with the answer that I wasn’t.

Let me state that I don’t have a home phone. Besides my handy iPhone, I have no other way to contact people. Having that cell phone is extremely important to me, being able to contact family and friends back home in Michigan. However, I really became irritated with paying that $80/month bill to AT&T for my basic iPhone plan.

At a 3% entry yield it would take $32,000 in equities to pay that $80 bill every month!

Would I rather have $32,000 in equities, or a cell phone? I chose the former. So, what can I do? I require a method to contact family back home when I’m at work, home, or on the go. I don’t have a home phone. My parents are a little beyond chatting on Facebook. I definitely do not want to rely on occasional emails.

I solved my problem by downloading an application on my iPhone that allows me to use a VOIP service to make and receive phone calls. I can make and receive phone calls anywhere there is a wifi signal. This includes all my time at work and home. This also includes many of the locations here around my city. Wifi is extremely widespread these days and I actually find difficulty NOT locating free Wifi. The only downside to this option is that I don’t have coverage when I’m physically driving in my car. If I had a lengthy drive to and from work this option probably wouldn’t work as I would require a cell phone for emergencies. However, this could easily be solved by keeping a cheap prepaid phone in the car and using it STRICTLY for emergencies. You could then use the VOIP service for all your other phone calls. I use a service that gives me a local phone number, unlimited minutes and voicemail. Anytime wifi is in range it will ring with incoming calls just like my AT&T service used to. I currently pay $9.99 per month. By making this switch I have saved a llittle over $70 per month. I’m very happy with that.

This method won’t work for everyone. I’m not suggesting that you cancel your cell phone. However, thinking outside the box can sometimes yield incredible results. For me, this works. I have a 7 mile commute to work and I have wifi access at home, work and most places in between. I believe the money I’m saving every month with my VOIP service will directly lead to increased savings and an earlier retirement.

Thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. says

    Have you checked into Google Voice? Seems there is some type of App for cellphone I believe. Not personally familiar, but it appears promising.
    I was lucky enough to get grandfathered into a pre-paid wireless plan with essentially no expiring minutes. I will keep this until forced off as I average about $20/year in costs/use.

  2. says

    Gabe,

    I researched many different services before I picked the one I signed up for, including Skype. What I have now allows for a real, independent phone number, voicemail, incoming and outgoing wifi calls. It allows unlimited minutes for under $10/month. You have a pretty great deal going though, I wish I had access to something like that!

  3. says

    Justin,

    I currently use iCall. I’m not sure it’s the best VOIP service available and I may switch to something else in the future. Currently, it does suit my needs.

  4. says

    I haven’t used a cell phone in over 6 years. I own a technology company, and I am still available over my Vonage VOIP phone whenever I am traveling and haven’t missed the cell phone till now. My clients haven’t had any issues. Using the VOIP is pretty handy as my commute time is very low and whereever I am (at work, home or hotel) I have access to wifi.

  5. says

    Amit,

    I actually ended up switching to a prepaid MetroPCS plan. It’s $40/month including taxes and fees. It’s unlimited talk, text and web. It’s $30 more than I was paying before. Basically, it came down to the fact that once I sold my car I felt unsafe without some type of outside communication in case the bus didn’t show up or I ran into some type of trouble. I felt that with getting rid of my car I could then “splurge” on a cheap prepaid cell plan. I’ll probably write an article on this soon.

    VOIP did work great for me, however. My only complaint was not having access to communications whenever I didn’t have wifi. But it was cheap!

    Keep in touch.

  6. says

    VOIP is a best option to avoid huge cell phone bill .When i had the situation to move to abroad i was scary about huge roaming charge .So i decided to use a local sim card in abroad ,for this i unlocked my blackberry smart phone from the online vendor UnBBlock.com.I was getting internet package with VOIP in those days,it helps me to save my cell phone bill up to $50 …It is a good choice for traveler.

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